The new leader of the ruling group on Boston Borough Council has revealed his vision for the town – a massive redevelopment project to dramatically improve fortunes and perceptions.
The draft proposals will form a joint public and private partnership plan to redesign and redevelop an area between the railway station and the river, north of West Street.
Cllr Aaron Spencer has taken over as Leader of the Conservative group from Cllr Michael Cooper, who has stepped down as Leader to pursue business interests in Boston. A report will be considered by the borough council on July 15 to appoint a new Leader of the Council.
Cllr Spencer said: “It will be a comprehensive and complex project over many years – perhaps as many as 15 – and involving many partners and is a long-sighted vision for the future prosperity of our town. I want to turn around the negativity and secure a positive future.”
Project partners already include Lincolnshire County Council and health partners. Proposals include moving the bus and coach park to the current Staniland car park, all-new development of retail units, a hotel, housing and car parking, a major health and wellbeing hub and a green corridor linking the station and the new centre with the rest of town. It is likely that only the former Jobcentre building near St Botolph’s footbridge will be repurposed.
A bid for finance has already been lodged with the Government’s Future High Streets Fund and another bid is being worked on in readiness for an application to the Stronger Towns Fund. The £1.6 billion Stronger Towns Fund targets places that have not shared in the proceeds of growth in the same way as more prosperous parts of the country. It will be used to create new jobs, help train local people and boost economic activity – with communities having a say on how the money is spent.
Cllr Spencer stressed that the success of the draft proposed scheme would depend on public and private partnership working to make the project viable. Early signs are good with the county council and the health services already coming forward as supportive partners, with ongoing dialogue with current occupiers of properties on the site. Views of the public will also continue to be sought.
He said: “This scheme will be phased, and the first phase will involve freeing up the bus and coach station space and building the new one-stop health and wellbeing hub to tackle our current health issues, such as obesity, with the emphasis on prevention.
“The scheme in total will completely revitalise this large area of the town.”
Cllr Spencer wants to encourage cross-party working involving all council members and making best use of the expertise and experience available. A small exhibition of the project has been scheduled for July 29 for all the council’s elected members to contribute ideas to the draft proposals.
He is also planning more community involvement, with quarterly video presentations on social media about how the council is performing.
He said: “Boston has a great future if we all work together.”